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Dark Sun: The Making of the Hydrogen Bomb by…
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Dark Sun: The Making of the Hydrogen Bomb

by Richard Rhodes

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I really enjoyed this book. I didn't learn too much more about the bomb itself, since I had read something on the atomic bomb before, but I did learn pretty much about the Soviet Spy program and how far it extended.

This book starts out with the atomic bomb and builds up the backstory of the spies for the Soviets. It switches between the two pretty easily, the book follows a chronological series of events, so you aren't completely lost. While it did have a lot of info on the H-Bomb itself, most of the book is devoted to the stories of the people involved in creating it; Teller, Oppenheimer, Fermi, a lot of names are mentioned. ( )
  Floyd3345 | Jun 15, 2019 |
Just finished reading. Cover to cover. Excellent. Covers all the twist and turns leading up to the detonation of the first true thermonuclear device - the Mike shot. The big takeaway : the nuclear arms race didn't just bankrupt the USSR, it fatally weakened the US as well. ( )
  clarkland | Jul 5, 2016 |
Not being a scientist and being even less interested in making a bomb of any sort, I found some of Rhodes's Dark Sun tedious. Having said that, I firmly believe to dumb it down for the sake of the common reader would be to turn Dark Sun into a children's bedtime story for the nuclear physicists who truly are interested in U235 and CP-1. The sections involving espionage were far more exciting and hard to believe they weren't scenes taken straight from a spy movie thriller. ( )
  SeriousGrace | Jul 14, 2014 |
An alternate, and more accurate subtitle for this book would be, “How the Soviets Stole The Bomb.” There is a fair amount of science in the book, and I had flashbacks to high school chemistry when Rhodes started printing nuclear equations. However, if science isn’t your thing you can skim those sections as the book overall is definitely recommended.

A fair amount of the book focuses on the post WWII espionage efforts of the USSR to catch up on bomb making by stealing all the secrets from the US. They mostly succeed in that department and the book often reads like a top notch spy thriller.

Another focus is the political machinations around getting the thermonuclear bomb built. Scientists with egos invested in the process had differing opinions of how best to go about it. Some scientists, upon seeing the devastation in Hiroshima, had second thoughts about building an exponentially more powerful bomb. And some thought we should build the bomb, but that just one nation having it was a destabilizing influence in the world. Not surprisingly, these differing factions didn’t get along with each other.

The final third of the book is a somewhat quickpaced history of the beginnings of the cold war. There are accusations online that Rhodes' history is not entirely accurate through this part of the book. Details aside, what I took from it is that we were much closer to nuking Korea during that war than I had ever imagined, and that elements within SAC strongly believed that a preemptive nuclear strike on the USSR (before they got their bomb program rolling) was a really fine idea. Also, and this really isn’t news, the CIA was generally widely inaccurate with their estimates of Soviet capabilities. Also interesting to me was just how much of the US economy was going into the bomb program in the 50s. Those glory days of free market capitalism in mid-century didn’t really exist. The economy was booming in big part to all the money the government was spending building bombs. Overall, the book is highly recommended as a richly detailed look at the early years of the cold war and the political machinations surrounding The Bomb. ( )
  chrisod | Aug 15, 2010 |
4218 Dark Sun The Making of the Hydrogen Bomb, by Richard Rhodes (read 13 Oct 2006) I read Rhodes' The Making of the Atomic Bomb on May 13, 1990, and it was the "Book of the Year" so I read this 1995 book by him. This book is stunningly interesting also--at times. There are many pages of information meaningful only to a scientist, and I made no attempt to get anything out of those pages. But the account of the spies--Klaus Fuchs and the Rosenbergs, et al., --was of high interest, though regrettably the accounts of their trials is brief. The telling of the tests of the hydrogen bomb in 1952 and 1954 is full of dramatic interest. And the account of the confrontations during the Cold War is startlingly fearsome. There is no doubt that if LeMay had had a president like our present one there would have been nuclear war, with millions dead and the world totally changed. This is a good book, and the author makes wise judgments and tells an absorbing story. ( )
  Schmerguls | Oct 27, 2007 |
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Epigraph
Fundamentally, and in the long run, the problem which is posed by the release of atomic energy is a problem of the ability of the human race to govern itself without war: A Report of a Panel of Consultants on Disarmament of the Secretary of State, January 1953
Dedication
For Arthur L. Singer, Jr.
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Early in January 1939, nine months before the outbreak of the Second World War, a letter from Paris alerted physicists in the Soviet Union to the startling news that German radiochemists had discovered a fundamental new nuclear reaction.
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0684824140, Paperback)

An engrossing history of the scientific discoveries, political maneuverings, and cold-war espionage leading to the creation of mankind's most destructive weapon.

Includes 94 archival photographs and a glossary with brief descriptions of the hundreds of people interviewed and discussed in the book. Author Richard Rhodes won the Pulitzer Prize, the National Book Award, and the National Book Critics Circle Award for his previous atomic tome, The Making of the Atomic Bomb.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:10:45 -0400)

(see all 3 descriptions)

Here, for the first time, in a brilliant, panoramic portrait by a Pulitzer Prize-winning author, is the definitive, often shocking story of the politics and the science behind the development of the hydrogen bomb and the birth of the Cold War. Based on secret files in the United States and the former Soviet Union, this monumental work of history discloses how and why the United States decided to create the bomb that would dominate world politics for more than forty years.… (more)

» see all 2 descriptions

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